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Full text of "The History Of Western Education"


ideas and sentiments. We strengthened the hand, and it became
fit for realization of ideal creations and for labour. We caused
pleasure and pain to be felt through the skin, and the idiot in
answer tried to please by the exhibition of his new moral qualities.
In fact, we could not touch a fibre of his without receiving back
the vibration of his all-souled instrument."*


In spite of the large share taken by England in the overthrow
of Napoleon, the great events that convulsed Europe for twenty
years had less effect on her internal economy than on that of
any of the continental nations. It was significant of deeper
differences that while Germany and France were making drastic
alterations in their educational systems by making education an
affair of State, England was content to leave her schools on a
voluntary basis with such small measure of improvement as might
come from employing the methods of Lancaster and BelL This
did not mean that there was no desire for revolutionary change.
In point of fact, many radicals, especially among the working
classes, were eager for a wide extension of educational privileges
under the auspices of the government. But as a counterpoise
to these, there was a deadweight of conservative opinion among
the upper classes antagonistic to popular education as a possible
source of social unrest, which was strong enough to prevent any
progress being made. More important than the impulse that
came from the French Revolution or the precedent of State
education in France and Germany, so far as education was con-
cerned, were the effects of the industrial revolution. In the
half-century that had elapsed since the invention of the steam-
engine, the character of English life had been greatly changed by
the advance of manufacture. The great increase of population
it had made possible disorganized the old methods of local govern-
ment, and in the absence of any adequate control, the new factory
towns with their swarms of workers became centres of ignorance
and social misery. What more natural than that men of philan-
thropic bent, looking for a remedy, should think of the possibilities
of collective action in the interests of educational and social

* Idiocy, p, 303,